Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Who will be backing up behind the plate in Padreville?

Tuesday January 4, 2011

Backup catcher has been a strength for the San Diego Padres the past two seasons with Henry Blanco and Yorvit Torrealba pulling on the tools of ignorance every other day.

For 2011 the Padres do not have a veteran defensive catcher on the roster at this point. They traded away a PTBNL & cash to get catcher Rob Johnson from the Seattle Mariners, but according to Corey Brock of in recent tweets, it is far from a certainty that Johnson will be handed the backup job at seasons start.

Rob Johnson is a riddle wrapped in an enigma.
Catcher Rob Johnson
Johnson was the Opening Day starter for the Mariners in 2010, but hit only .191 and lost his starting job before the All Star break.

He has thrown out better than 35% of baserunners for his career (minors + majors) which is outstanding, but has always been considered to have problems with passed balls. Johnson only had two more than Yorvit Torrealba in 2010 and Torrey is considered exceptional defensively, so what to think of his real defensive prowess is hard to figure out.

Johnson has a .271 BA in the minors including .297/.403 over 17 starts in 2010, but seems to try too hard in the majors and doesn't get the job done at the plate hitting only .200 over parts of 4 seasons.

He is still only 26 years old so he is far from too old, but he doesn't seem to have progressed at the plate with extended playing time over the past two seasons.

26-27 is the age that most players see a bump in performance, but for Johnson does that mean hitting at a .270 clip like he has in the minors or just a little bump to .220-.230?

Looks like we will have to wait until spring training to see how he is playing and whether the Padres hand him the backup job.

My guess is the Padres sign someone like Max Ramirez to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training to give them organizational depth at catcher in case Johnson can't get the job done.